Originally published in November 2019

If you see only one movie this year, make it Joker. First up, this is not a summer blockbuster action-adventure superhero (or in this case, supervillain) movie. There’s no kickass expolosions, frantic car-chase scenes or some quality piece of eye candy whose been brought in to boost the sex appeal. In a nutshell, it’s not for kids, yet still immensely poignant for its portrayal of society.

By Jonathan Foley

I’ll try my best to avoid spoilers for anyone who hasn’t got around to seeing it yet, so instead I’ll focus in on how this film caused an unforeseen media hysteria, both before and after its cinema release, and how it has touched a nerve with so many who have sat down to have a watch of the movie for themselves.

The main thing I enjoyed about Joker was not merely because its gripping storyline and superb acting; although, while I’m here, I’ll happily both writers and cast alike on their great work. Much more than that, this movie should be hailed for one that finally stood up to WOKE culture and over-the-top political correctness amongst easily offended trashers of modern entertainment. 

Considering the fact that Joker is directed by Todd Philips – a man best known for his major roles in creating such cult-comedies like Old School and The Hangover trilogy – it’s fair to suggest that there were a fair share of eyebrows raised when it was announced that he would now oversee the production of this much darker and grittier type of film. 

Looking back, maybe it shouldn’t have been so much of a surprise. Speaking to the media not long before the Joker’s completion, Phillips made it clear that the reason he stopped doing comedies was because he felt that genre was dying due to the abundance of PC-brigaders constantly looking for things to complain about. What you can and can’t joke about, basically.

With that in mind, he took an ever darker spin on Gotham City’s most notorious villain – one who is iconically renowned for laughing hysterically in the face of destruction and suffering – and, through some interesting narrative – humanised him. Combined with Jaoquin Phoenix’s performance as the titular character, they brought him down to our level. 

They showed us that mental illness is an affliction that can take hold of anyone. 

Especially if they are living in a time of a serious economic downturn where employment and security are hard to come by and also when government programs designed to help such people are inadequate, poorly funded or have relied too heavily on simply dishing out medication as a quick-fix solution to their patients. 

It’s not so much that we sympathise with Arthur Fleck in this film, but we as the audience can at least empathise and understand his situation that little bit better. It makes us realise that anyone can slip through the cracks of society and become an agent of chaos, violence and aggression at any given point when life doesn’t go the way that they would have hoped. 

And who did this annoy the most, you ask? That’s right, the mainstream American media. There’s an abundance of reasons why but one that stands out is that the empathetic portrayal of the Joker goes against the grain of the news reporting agenda.  

In the United States, watching a news broadcast is a lot different when compared to here at home. In this part of the world, the RTÉ or BBC newsreader will tell you what’s been happening in an unbiased and objective manner; shortly before ending the programme on a happier note with a look at the sports and weather from their colleagues alongside them in the studio. 

America is very different. News has a political agenda as the majority of companies are heavily funded by the likes of the Republican or Democratic parties. In turn, this allows the parties to manufacture what should be broadcast to the viewers in the hope that it will scare monger those watching into putting their trust in the parties to protect them. 

If you don’t believe me, check out the likes of CNN or ABC News on your Sky channels. Reporters don’t hold back in their debates and it epitomises the ‘freedom of the press’ section of the Second Amendment of their cherished Constitution. And here’s how Joker fits into it all.

In recent times, reports of mass-shootings and anti-government based uprisings and protests have engulfed American news stories. This has led to the question over the right to bear arms to the fore once again. Anytime, a mass-shooting does occur, the person who carried out the attack is always portrayed as being one was just simply born evil and that’s that. 

Protests and rallies suggest discontent and unrest amongst people who aim their frustrations at the established order and higher-classes of society. It doesn’t matter if Democrats and Republicans disagree on US policy, they both retain a desire to maintain power, even if it’s a shared power.

So when a film comes along that shows an iconic character vividly portraying the factors that drive a descent into anarchy and rage while he seemingly stands up for the everyday person whose grown tired of government policy, the Establishment was undoubtedly going to get a tad nervous. 

News reports spread that this film would ‘definitely’ insight violence at screenings, that armed guards would be on hand to forcibly deal with any such disturbances (and they were). The self-righteous PC-brigade who likely claimed that any movie that ‘glorifies’ psychotic behaviour or shows a character upsetting the establishment to be ‘offensive’ were, in a way, given a defiant response that artistic creativity will carry on despite what politically-driven media will say.

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